Chorus for peacee
Chinese children perform m in both Israel and Palestine
Ode to Joy, a poem written in 1785 by German poet Friedrich Schiller and best known for its use in the final movement of Symphony No 9 by Beethoven in 1824, celebrates the changing of anguish into joy and conflict into harmony.
Inspired by the piece and with the hope of promoting world peace, a Chinese song, Ode to Peace, was released by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. It’s staging a world tour, which kicked off from Israel and Palestine in September.
Twenty-six child singers from the Children and Young Women’s Chorus of the China National Symphony Orchestra, ranging in age from 11 to 16, performed the song at Tel Aviv University in Israel and at the Palestine Red Crescent Society Theater, between Sept 25 and 29, along with other Chinese folk songs, including Dance of Youth and Jasmine Flower.
“Music is a unique, universal language that can help people from different nations, races and cultures to understand and respect one another,” says Li Xiaolin, president of CPAFFC, who initiated the project. “We believe that the tour will help enhance mutual understanding and friendship among different nations.”
She adds that the world tour will continue until next year.
The association also plans to take the show to the United Nations.
The idea of the song took root years ago as an important project for CPAFFC.
Li says since China is a vital part of the international community, the project will help improve relations between China and the rest of the world.
Ode to Peace was first performed in Beijing on Nov 11, 2015, marking the 70th anniversary of China’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).
The lyrics, written by Li, address simple and direct messages about peace and harmony. Renowned Chinese musicians Zhao Jiping and Zhao Lin composed the music.
According to Li Xinyu, director of the research center for people-to-people diplomacy at CPAFFC, the conflict between Israel and Palestine makes the launch of the tour in that region special and meaningful.
The chorus, the brainchild of renowned Chinese conductor Yang Hongnian, has given over 1,000 performances in China and abroad since it was founded in 1983. Nearly 5,000 children who love to sing have been trained by the chorus.
Yang, 82, who conducts the chorus, says: “The five-day tour enabled us to get close to Israel and Palestine, which are mysterious and sacred places.
“But what impressed me most was the communication between the young students. They live in different cultures but share the same love for music,” he says, referring to the interaction between the Chinese and Israeli students in Jerusalem.
When the chorus visited the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, the Ankor Choir of Jerusalem Conservatory, which was also founded in 1983 and includes 45 female students, performed Ode to Peace with the Chinese chorus under Yang’s baton.
Commenting on the tour, the Chinese ambassador to Israel, Zhan Yongxin, says: “Music goes beyond religions and languages to help people understand each other. With the performance of the Chinese students, we hope the seed of peace will be planted among the younger generations.”
Ma Conglin, 12, a member of the chorus from Beijing’s No 8Middle School, says the tour is a memory that he will cherish for the rest of his life.
“When we performed the song, Ode to Peace, and opened a silk scarf with dove of peace on it, the audiences stood up and gave us a long ovation. I was very excited. That’s the power of music, which brings people together,” says Ma.
He also says he was happy to have the chance to communicate with young people of his age in Israel and Palestine.
“I talked with some Israeli students in simple English and they showed me their campus,” he adds.
Adding his voice of support for the tour of Palestine, Chen Xingzhong, the Chinese ambassador to Palestine, says: “We hope the friendship and communication between China and Palestine will continue, especially among the young generation.”
Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, the secretary-general of the Palestinian presidency, says such performances can help push forward the peace process and boost cultural exchanges as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Music goes beyond religions and languages to help people understand each other.” Zhan Yongxin, Chinese ambassador to Israel
Singers from the Children and Young Women’s Chorus of the China National Symphony Orchestra perform during their trip to Israel and Palestine in September.
Young performers and project members in Israel during their world tour.